The graceful style
Recently I was accused of being biased towards certain genres and brands of cars but easily defended my preferences with the fact that a car must ultimately serve its purpose. Some brands do it better than others and my love for two-door coupés is simply because they should be beautiful and sophisticated.
Like, for instance, an Audi A5. If you want smoke and noise, get an R/S5 or M3. But if you want style and understated elegance, the regular A5 will do the job very nicely. Audis tend to have a generic look throughout the range but the Five has always stood out for me.
The clean Audi lines and trademark minimalist lights decorate a classic two-door cruiser shape whose taught body panels lend a hint of butch to an otherwise graceful form. It’s beautiful. I think it’s the best-looking Audi on the market and yes, the R8 is included in that statement.
This Scuba blue metallic test specimen scored top marks with the inquisitive crowd of friends who inspect my rides at our weekly dinner date. The looks, the lights, the seats, the dash and especially the S-Line kit (N$14,260) with its incredibly striking wheels (N$13,850) got pointed at, discussed, photographed, tweeted and caressed.
While all this was going on, nobody seemed to care that it wasn’t an RS5, S5 or even a V6 A5. Most observers eventually spotted the 2.0T badge and immediately assumed that it was the 188kW Golf-R motor. It isn’t. This car has the Golf GTi 155kW (211hp) 350Nm engine but yet again, nobody seemed to care.
Someone enquired as to its performance and I reported that it was fine. Adequate. Sufficient. This small A5 doesn’t burn rubber or chase AMG’s but it will sprint past 100km/h in 6.6 seconds and reach 241km/h. The double-clutch automatic with Sport mode, exhaust pops, throttle blips and shift paddles adds further sporting credentials.
Furthermore, you can fiddle with the five-way Audi Drive Select (N$16,540) to get the suspension, drive-train and steering feedback exactly as you like it. A start/stop system comes as standard to bring consumption down to a claimed 7L/100km and CO2 output to 159g/km.
My broken record critique also applies to this DSG’s jerkiness at slow speeds and the brakes were hard to modulate at parking speeds. Once on the move though, the many settings and customisations turn this A5 into a jittery eager-beaver, sparing commuter or refined cruiser. Your choice.
Clever suspensions and big wheels (especially of the striking variety) tend to bring about jarring low-speed ride comfort but the A5’s road manners are above average. In “Comfort” mode they’re sublime and the two-door Audi is even more composed at highway speeds where it wants to keep gliding to the next border post.
A mid-week highway trip with obligatory and stinky trucks also allowed me to sample the 2.0T FSi’s overtaking ability which, yet again, is easily sufficient. A V6 or V8 motor would obviously be more exciting but the little turbo four-pot and seven-speed ‘box overtake with gusto and settle into a quiet, sparing cruise.
This is when it dawned on me that I may be piloting the best A5 of the lot. By “best” I mean “most sensible”, of course. Tick the “S-Line” box and it looks no less amazing than its stronger siblings. The power and delivery is surprisingly good and so is its base price of N$490,500. That’s a lot of beauty for your money.
As with most Germans, the options list will be your bank account’s nightmare and this test car had a whopping N$89,150 worth of goodies attached to it. I would definitely recommend the top-spec MMI 3G system (N$21,300) with its clever combination of radio, CD/DVD, Aux/mp3, nav and Bluetooth.
The sound quality wasn’t top-notch though, so perhaps you could invest in the N$6,700 Bang&Olufsen speaker upgrade. The rest of the cabin is the usual sea of Audi class and solidity. The high-res screens and comprehensive trip computer are just as impressive as the high-grade materials and supportive seats.
Rear space will accommodate adults on short trips and unfortunately the rear windows aren’t pillar-less or movable. Still, this aids chassis rigidity which the Audi obviously has a lot of. In fast corners it sits flat and has quite a bit of initial under-steer which can usually be cured by stepping on the quattro throttle.
The 2.0TFSi makes a lot of financial and real-world sense. More than I thought it would, to be quite honest. It comes with a 1-year unlimited warranty, Audi’s five-year/100,000km Freeway plan and many colour, trim and wheel options. If you go for these 19-inch “Rotor” wheels, I suggest getting some lock nuts as well.